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Slamming home two points, Corydon Central's Bronson Kessinger used a dish from a teammate to score in the second quarter. Kessinger finished with a game-high 21 points. Photos by Brian Smith (click for larger version)

No issue with long layoff for Panthers


December 18, 2013 | 10:43 AM

Nearly two weeks for Corydon Central and more than two weeks for North Harrison: that's the length of time between games for the rivals before they met Thursday in Ramsey.

If there were any signs of being rusty, the Corydon Central boys' basketball team shook off the flakes quickly, racing out to a 15-0 lead in the first four minutes against its Mid-Southern Conference foe. Playing with a lead is something the Class 3A No. 14 Panthers count on being a strength, and they proved it, withstanding a few Cougars' spurts to win 65-41 Thursday over 3A No. 20 North Harrison.

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Corydon Central's Timothy Wiseman draws contact from North Harrison's Gage Arnold while going up for a shot attempt in the lane Thursday. (click for larger version)
"We were hoping to get out quick; we didn't want to get down early," Corydon Central's Tommy Wiseman said. "We didn't want to give up the early lead because we know we may have trouble if we have to come back on teams, especially (North Harrison) the way they shoot."

Corydon Central used balance early and often against North Harrison, putting four scorers in double figures, led by Bronson Kessinger's 21 points and nine rebounds.

"It was a great team win where everybody contributed," Panthers coach Jamie Kolkmeier said. "We have to continue our great understanding of our roles, and they did a fantastic job of that tonight."

Early on, Corydon Central controlled the game in many aspects. A pair of offensive rebounds led to Tommy Wiseman scoring on an old-fashioned 3-point play, while Brayden Lander took advantage of an offensive board to score. The Panthers' lead grew to 9-0 when Kessinger sank a jumper. Going to work inside, Lander put in a pair of field goals while Mitchell Frederick contributed one to give the visitors a 15-0 lead.

It was a start Corydon Central couldn't have scripted better.

"We had a great start," Kolkmeier said. "It was great defensive intensity to start the game, and we attacked early, especially in the first quarter. We shot all of our shot attempts with power moves inside. We talk about finishing strong inside, and I thought we did that well."

Cougars coach Greg Walters wished his team's script could have read a little better.

"They were the better team and played better than us," Walters said. "We played about as poor as we could play, but give them credit; they sped us up and made us play that way. We didn't play defense or execute our game plan."

Coming into the game, which was originally slated for Dec. 6 but moved due to inclement weather, Walters talked with his team about the last match-up against the Panthers. In the Class 3A Sectional, the Cougars fell one point short of knocking off Corydon Central, 48-47.

"We were trying to do some similar things but weren't able to do it tonight," Walters said. "Hopefully, it will be a good lesson for the rest of the season."

Breaking the ice Thursday for the Cougars was Austin Nolot, who put in a bucket four minutes into the game after taking a dish from teammate Cameron Mink. Nolot was a particular bright spot for the Cougars, scoring 14 points while pulling down 10 rebounds.

When Nolot scored North Harrison's first points, the Panthers didn't quit attacking the rim. Kessinger scored consecutive field goals followed by a pair from Timothy Wiseman. The final was off a steal, giving Corydon Central a wide, 23-4 lead at the end of eight minutes.

"We were taking a lot of shots close to the rim," Lander said. He would finish with 16 points. "We played good defense early and, when they weren't hitting anything, the momentum swung toward us."

North Harrison didn't go away without a fight. A 5-0 run to start the second quarter was highlighted by a Cory Smith 3-pointer. Smith, who was honored pre-game for scoring his 1,000th career point at the sectional last season, tallied a team-best 19 points against the Panthers.

Kessinger answered the call. Tommy Wiseman's drive to the lane saw the guard drop the ball to Kessinger near the block for a two-handed slam bringing a roar from the Panther fans.

Extending the Corydon Central lead to 33-13 was Timothy Wiseman, knocking down a left-wing triple. It was the lone Panthers 3-pointer on the night on just three attempts.

Inside the final few minutes of the second quarter, North Harrison had its best run, scoring nine unanswered points. Three field goals by Smith and one from Nolot cut Corydon Central's lead to 33-21.

"It helped us, but it was kind of a double-edge sword," Walters said of the end-of-the-half run. "We didn't fix any of the mistakes we had talked about at halftime because we were still in the game. We sort of had this problem last year — the first, second game of the year — making mistakes."

An 11-5 run by the Panthers to start the second half sealed the victory. North Harrison was never able to cut the Corydon Central lead into single digits.

"They got some shots to fall in the second quarter, and I think they went into halftime thinking they could come back," Lander said. "We brought the intensity back to start the third quarter like we did the beginning of the game. We got good stops and finished out the game."

The Panthers won the scoring battle in each of the final two quarters by 16-10 margins.

"Nolot had a tough first a game (vs. South Central) and bounced back good tonight," Walters said. "Still, our offense has to get the ball moving. We were stagnant, and everyone was trying to make plays instead of trusting teammates, getting to the second and third side of the floor. We'll work things out."

As a team, North Harrison was 4 of 21 from beyond the arc.

"When North hit four threes, that's fine with us," Tommy Wiseman said. "That means they probably aren't shooting a very good percentage. If they make 10, they probably beat us. But, our key was to contest the 3-point shot."

Contesting the long ball was the focus, according to Kolkmeier.

"They have a lot of good shooters and made a couple against us," he said. "They have range other teams don't have and, when they shoot those shots, they are going to get long rebounds. Early we did a nice job protecting the long rebounds. We had good help on their drives. I thought when we got stops, we did a good job attacking and going to the basket. It put a lot of pressure on them. Mentally, it can drain a team."

Winning the rebounding battle, 36-28, the Panthers were led by Kessinger's nine but saw Frederick and Tommy Wiseman pull down eight boards each.

"Tommy and Timothy had some great block outs," Kolkmeier said. "The first half Tommy and Mitchell were so good on the offensive boards to get us some second shots, too."

Timothy (12 points) and Tommy (11 points) reached double-figure scoring for the Panthers. Tommy also had five assists and three steals.

"We have great team chemistry, moving the ball pretty well right now," Tommy said. "It was a good team win. A lot of guys are happy in (the locker room)."

Kolkmeier said he was concerned a little about the long lay-off between games.

"We felt like we were starting the season all over again tonight," he said. "The bad thing is, it feels like the preseason was too long; you get to the point that you just don't like each other ... I'm sure North Harrison was in the same boat."

Corydon Central will travel Friday to Scottsburg (7:30 p.m. tip) while, on the same night, North Harrison will visit defending Class 3A Sectional champion Brownstown Central (7:30 p.m.). The Cougars also will hit the road Saturday night to face Rock Creek Academy at 7:30.

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